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I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien; I’m a French doctor in New South Wales!

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Migrating is a daunting but fascinating experience

Joint winner

I was far from imagining how my life was about to change when I reluctantly came to Melbourne in 2008 for a medical conference. Who wants to spend 24 hours locked in a plane with his boss, spend 4 days at the far end of the world and come back to his work duty on Monday, with jet lag? At the conference, I met a beautiful Australian woman, and I was “Thunderstruck” (AC/DC was the only thing I knew about Australia at that time). When I am asked why I left the picturesque south of France and came to Australia, I respond that I had the misfortune to fall in love with an Australian lady — and my interlocutors usually wipe the disbelieving expression off their face and replace it with a cheeky grin (oh, you French men!).

Being an obstetrician and gynaecologist, my transplantation has involved a lot more than the acquisition of medical terms. It has been a journey in terra incognita, exploring the intimacy and most personal attitudes of my new fellow citizens.

For instance, the biblical notion that pain in childbearing should be severe — “with painful labour, you will give birth to children” — is a notion that has been opposed by French feminists since 1968 (part of the legacy of events in May 1968 in France). In my former French unit, we were very proud to announce an unusual 70% epidural block rate…